Consumers Play an Active Role in Defending Their IoT

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is drawing attention to security risks carried by insecure IoT devices in a home or office environment, and recommending strategies to defend against cyberattacks. Keeping smart gadgets safe is, for the time being, the responsibility of the manufacturer just as much as it is of the consumer.

With the number of IoT products rising sharply, and their weak defenses arising from a lack of security standards, it is easy to understand why cybercriminals go after them. Hackers often encounter little resistance in hijacking connected devices because users neglect precautions and expose them to public access.

At the top of the list of tips from the FBI is changing the default credentials for a connected device. However, having a secure network starts with making the right choices when purchasing smart equipment. To this effect, the recommendation supports products from security-conscious manufacturers. If a product has automatic updates and new firmware versions are available regularly, it typically means the maker is alert to vulnerabilities. You should also check the company’s policy to see what type of data it collects from endpoints, if the information reaches the back-end infrastructure over a secure path, and if it is stored in an encrypted state.

Tech-savvy consumers could isolate the IoT systems to their own network. This can be done through any modern router by creating a guest network or a wireless isolation feature. On the same note, filtering rules in network firewalls can help prevent traffic from malicious IP addresses.

Many users lack motivation to strengthen defenses beyond the default setup despite the threat of their connected gadgets joining a Mirai type of botnet. The danger is greater than unknowingly contributing to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that cause damage on a global scale.  A weak node on the network can serve as a springboard to access to other devices, and to the theft of personal information, installation of malware or creation of a proxy connection between an attacker and the victim.

Protection for all smart devices on the network is also possible through a dedicated solution like Bitdefender BOX (Bitdefender BOX), a hardware component that oversees the traffic on the local network and stops connections to and from bad locations on the internet. The piece, which can sit in front of or behind your router, does not discriminate between the devices it has to protect and the software they run.

Image credit: Geralt / Pixabay

One comment

  • By Caston Young - Reply

    I am trying to do technical report on IoT security for the Oregon Institute of Technology; however, I am having trouble finding someone who could use a report on the security of a particular smart device. Can anyone help me?

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